North American Aviation
North American Rockwell Rockwell International
North American Aviation Begins- Dundalk, Maryland
"The facilities in Dundalk would prove inadequate for the production of modern aircraft, and Kindelberger persuaded the board and a number of employees to move to Southern California, where they’d have year-round flying weather. A site near Inglewood at Los Angeles Municipal Airport (Mines Field) was selected, and on Jan. 1, 1936, a modern plant was opened". More here...
"Clement Melville Keys founded North American on December 6, 1928, as a holding company that bought and sold interests in various airlines and aviation-related companies. However, the Air Mail Act of 1934 forced the breakup of such holding companies. North American became a manufacturing company, run by James H. "Dutch" Kindelberger, who had been recruited from Douglas Aircraft Company. NAA did retain ownership of Eastern Air Lines until 1938.
General Motors Corporation took a controlling interest in NAA and merged it with its general aviation division in 1933, but retained the name North American Aviation.
Kindelberger moved the company's operations from Dundalk, Maryland to Los Angeles, California, which allowed flying year-round, and decided to focus on training aircraft, on the theory that it would be easier than trying to compete with established companies on larger projects. Its first planes were the GA-15 observation plane and the GA-16 trainer, followed by the O-47and BT-9, also called the GA-16." Wikipedia
World War II
The North American P-51D-5-NA Mustang
"The BC-1 of 1937 was North American's first combat aircraft; it was based on the GA-16. In 1940, like other manufacturers, North American started gearing up for war, opening factories in Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Texas, and Kansas City, Kansas. North American ranked eleventh among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.
B-25 Mitchell bomber production line at the North American Aviation plant, Inglewood, California, October 1942. The plane's outer wings have yet to be added, which enables the two side-by-side assembly lines to be closer together. The outer wings will be attached outdoors, in the "sunshine" assembly line.
North American's follow-on to the BT-9 was the T-6 Texan trainer, of which 17,000 were built, making it the most widely used trainer ever. The twin-engine B-25 Mitchell bomber achieved fame in the Doolittle Raid and was used in all combat theaters of operation. The P-51 Mustang was initially produced for Britain as an alternative to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, which North American had declined to produce under license. The derivative A-36 Apache was developed as a ground attack aircraft and dive bomber. A suggestion by the RAF that North American switch the P-51's powerplant from its original Allison engine to the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine may have been one of the most significant events in WWII aviation, as it transformed the P-51 into what many consider to be the best American fighter of the war." Wiki
"Post-war, North American's employment dropped from a high of 91,000 to 5,000 in 1946. On V-J Day, North American had orders from the U.S. government for 8,000 aircraft. A few months later, that had dropped to 24.
Two years later in 1948, General Motors divested NAA as a public company. Nevertheless, NAA continued with new designs, including the T-28 Trojan trainer and attack aircraft, the odd-looking F-82 Twin Mustang, B-45 Tornado jet bomber, the FJ Furyfighter, AJ Savage, the revolutionary XB-70 Valkyrie Mach-3 strategic bomber, Shrike Commander, and T-39 Sabrelinerbusiness jet.
The North American XB-70 Valkyrie
The Columbus, Ohio division of North American Aviation was instrumental in the exclusive development and production of the A-5 Vigilante, an advanced high speed bomber that would see significant use as a naval reconnaissance aircraft during the Vietnam War, the OV-10 Bronco, the first aircraft specifically designed for forward air control (FAC), and counter-insurgency (COIN) duties, and the T-2 Buckeye Naval trainer, which would serve from the late 1950s until 2008 and be flown in training by virtually every Naval Aviator and Naval Flight Officer in the US Navy and US Marine Corps for four decades. The Buckeye's name would be an acknowledgment to the state tree of Ohio, as well as the mascot of Ohio State University.
The North American F-86 Sabre started out as a redesigned Fury and achieved fame shooting down MiGs in the Korean War. Over 9,000 F-86s were produced. Its successor, the North American F-100 Super Sabre, was also popular.
Some 6,656 F-86s were produced in the United States, the most postwar military aircraft in the West, as well as another 2,500 elsewhere. To accommodate its Sabre production, North American opened facilities in a former Curtiss-Wright plant in Columbus, Ohio. It also moved into a former Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft plant at Downey, California, and in 1948, built a new plant at Downey. By the end of 1952, North American sales topped $315 million. Employment at the Columbus plant grew from 1,600 in 1950 to 18,000 in 1952.
The cancellation of the F-107 and F-108 programs in the late 1950s, as well as the cancellation of the Navaho intercontinental cruise missile program, was a blow to North American from which it never fully recovered." Wiki
North American Aviation- The Merchants of Speed
Atomics International was a division of North American Aviation which began as the Atomic Energy Research Department at the Downey plant in 1948. In 1955, the department was renamed Atomics International and engaged principally in the early development of nuclear technology and nuclear reactors for both commercial and government applications. Atomics International was responsible for a number of accomplishments relating to nuclear energy: design, construction and operation of the first nuclear reactor in California (a small aqueous homogeneous reactor located at the NAA Downey plant), the first nuclear reactor to produce power for a commercial power grid in the United States (the Sodium Reactor Experiment located at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory) and the first nuclear reactor launched into outer space by the United States (the SNAP-10A). As overall interest in nuclear power declined, Atomics International transitioned to non-nuclear energy-related projects such as coal gasification and gradually ceased designing and testing nuclear reactors. Atomics International was eventually merged with the Rocketdyne division in 1978.
Navigation and guidance, radar, and data systems
Autonetics began in 1945 at North American's Technical Research Laboratory, a small unit in the Los Angeles Division's engineering department based in Downey, California. The evolution of the Navaho missile program resulted in the establishment of Autonetics as a separate division of North American Aviation in 1955, first located in Downey, later moving to Anaheim, California in 1963. The division was involved in the development of guidance systems for the Minuteman ballistic missile system.
The North American Apollo spacecraft being prepared for the Apollo 7 mission
In 1955, the rocket engine operations were spun off into a separate division as Rocketdyne. This division furnished engines for the Redstone, Jupiter, Thor, Delta, and Atlas missiles, and for NASA's Saturn family of launch vehicles.
North American designed and built the airframe for the X-15, a rocket-powered aircraft that first flew in 1959.
In 1959, North American built the first of several Little Joe boosters used to test the launch escape system for the Project Mercury spacecraft. In 1960, the new CEO Lee Atwood decided to focus on the space program, and the company became the prime contractor for the Apollo Command/Service Module, a larger Little Joe II rocket to test Apollo's launch escape system, and the S-II second stage of the Saturn V.
Merger and acquisition
The fatal Apollo 1 fire in January 1967 was partly blamed on the company. In March, it merged with Rockwell-Standard, and the merged company became known as North American Rockwell. Within two years the new company was studying concepts for the Space Shuttle, and won the orbiter contract in 1972. In 1973, the company changed its name again to Rockwell International and named its aircraft division North American Aircraft Operations.
The North American Rockwell Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis landing at Kennedy Space Center
Rockwell International's defense and space divisions (including the North American Aviation divisions Autonetics and Rocketdyne) were sold to Boeing in December 1996. Initially called Boeing North American, these groups were integrated with Boeing's Defense division. Rocketdyne was eventually sold by Boeing to UTC Pratt & Whitney in 2005. UTC later sold Rocketdyne to Aerojet (GenCorp) in 2013." Wiki
The High and the Mighty
"The third production F-86A-1 ("P" for "Pursuit" had been superseded by "F" for "Fighter" in 1947) equipped with a new J47-GE-13 engine of 5,200 pounds thrust (23.12 kN), set a world’s speed record of 671 mph (1,080 km/h) on September 1, 1948. The Sabre was armed with six .50-caliber M-3 machine guns in the nose, just aft of the jet intake. Target acquisition was aided by a new radar assisted gunsight. It required the pilot hold the cross hairs on his target for just one second. From then till the target was obliterated, the pilot was free of the complicated problem of adjusting for the target's range during the heat of combat". U.S. production of the Sabre Jet ended in December 1956. Aviation History
"North American Aviation (NAA) was a major American aerospace manufacturer, responsible for a number of historic aircraft, including the T-6 Texan trainer, the P-51 Mustang fighter, the B-25 Mitchell bomber, the F-86 Sabre jet fighter, the X-15 rocket plane, and the XB-70, as well as Apollo Command and Service Module, the second stage of the Saturn V rocket, the Space Shuttle orbiter and the B-1 Lancer. Through a series of mergers and sales, North American Aviation became part of North American Rockwell, which later became Rockwell International and is now part of Boeing." Wikipedia
North American Aviation Downey Plant
Starting in 1951, North American’s Downey plant also began developing and producing rocket engines for Atlas, Thor and Jupiter missiles during the 1950s, as well as the early Redstone boosters that would later be used for the first Mercury space flights. It formed a separate company, Rocketdyne, in Canoga Park, to produce rocket engines. North American’s Rocketdyne unit later would produce rocket engines that would power the Gemini and Apollo space programs, including the second stage rocket of the massive Saturn V that launched the Apollo 11 moon landing.
In September 1967, North American merged with the Rockwell Standard Corp. to become North American Rockwell Corp. In July 1972, it won the $2.6 billion contract to develop the space shuttle at the Downey plant. In February 1973, the company officially was renamed Rockwell International Corporation." More here...
North American Aviation Space Division in Downey
North American's Downey plant became known as the "Space Division", or "SI&D"
"Harrison A. Storms, Jr., (1915-1992) helped design Apollo spacecraft and many other aerospace vehicles. A former executive of Rockwell International and its predecessor company, North American Aviation, Storms made contributions to over 40 aircraft and space vehicles. " Air & Space
Rockwell International- A new name for North American Aviation
"In order to meet President Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon before 1970, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contracted North American to build the three-passenger Apollo space capsule. On January 27, 1967, a flash fire swept through a manned Apollo capsule during a ground test. Killed in the accident were Virgil Grissom, Edward White II, and Roger Chaffee. The astronauts' widows each received $350,000 in a legal settlement, but North American was still harshly criticized. Despite the fact that most of its business involved government contracts, the company suffered severe financial reverses which threatened it with bankruptcy. Within two months of the accident, North American Aviation was a prime candidate for a takeover.
Rockwell-Standard made a $922 million bid for North American Aviation in March of 1967. Rockwell was established in Wisconsin in 1919 as a manufacturer of truck axles. At the time of the bid, Rockwell was primarily a manufacturer of industrial machinery and light and heavy vehicle parts.
Under the terms of the merger, J.L. Atwood, president and chief executive officer of North American, would assume the same duties at the new company, while Colonel Willard Rockwell, of Rockwell-Standard, would serve as chairperson. The merger was delayed for a few months by the Justice Department, which argued that the merger would be anti-competitive. The problems were finally resolved and the smaller Rockwell, with sales of $636 million, took over North American, with sales of $2.37 billion.
Atwood said the merger was "in furtherance of North American's previously announced objective to diversify its activities into the commercial and industrial sector." What the company management really wanted was to improve its public image. Its association with the Apollo space capsule tragedy was never forgotten. The merger with the Rockwell company would recover the reputation of integrity that management thought North American deserved. It was clear that Colonel Rockwell would be firmly in charge of the new company, which was called North American Rockwell.
Rockwell's role in the U.S. space program continued, but the company maintained a low profile. It spent much of its first years after the merger manufacturing car and truck parts, printing presses, tools, industrial sewing machines, and electronic instruments for flight and navigation. The company devoted much of its resources to the development of space systems, including the enormous Saturn V rocket engines, which launched later Apollo missions to the moon. Later, the company was chosen as the primary contractor for NASA's space shuttles. During this time, it also became NASA's largest contractor, a position it continued to hold into the 1990s. In 1973, the company changed its name to Rockwell International when it was merged with another separate company created by Willard Rockwell Jr., the Rockwell Manufacturing Company." Source- Reference for Business
More here about the Downey plant, home of Apollo , the Space Shuttle and much more- Read Cradle of the Cosmic Age
North American Aviation - a man named "Dutch"
Leadership- Loyalty -Innovation
"James Howard “Dutch” Kindelberger started out at the Glen L. Martin Company in Cleveland before moving to Douglas Aircraft in California, as vice president and chief engineer. In 1934, while immersed on the DC-1 and DC-2 airliner programs, an opportunity arose to head up North American Aviation (NAA), which was then part of General Aviation Corp. in Dundalk, Maryland. Dutch accepted the off er to become president of the Dundalk-based subsidiary, and wisely took along a few top engineers including Lee Atwood and Stan Smithson. However, aviation sales moved slowly in the east, and Dutch decided to move NAA to Southern California to pursue new business and benefi t from year-round good fl ying weather. It was 1935, and an automobile caravan moved the small NAA group cross-country to Inglewood, California, near Mines Field (now LAX). Th ey were the hearts and brains of a new era of aviation. Today, the “Bald Eagles” organization represents the spirit and memory of this original group. By January 1936, there were 159,000 square feet of fl oor space occupied by 150 employees at the new Inglewood plant. Soon, hundreds of BT-9 trainers and O-47 observation planes would be rolling out the door. In addition, the venerable NAA T-6 Texan for the Army Air Corps, and the Naval variant SNJ, went on to train more U.S. and Allied pilots than any other aircraft produced during WWII". Courtesy- Jim Albaugh, Winter 2006, NAA Bald Eagles Newsletter.
The Early Days
"Incorporated on Dec. 6, 1928, North American Aviation’s formation followed the founding of the Boeing Company in 1916 and Douglas Aircraft in 1921. For its first few years, North American operated as a holding company, owning parts of many other aviation firms, including Douglas and General Aviation Manufacturing Corp. in Dundalk, Maryland.
In 1934, federal antitrust legislation required that the company give up its holdings in other aircraft companies. At that point, under engineer Dutch Kindelberger and designers Lee Atwater and J.S. Smithson, North American became an aviation manufacturer, moving into General Aviation’s plant at Dundalk.
Its stay there would be temporary. After the company won its first airplane contract for 42 NA-16 trainers in 1935, Kindelberger began moving North American’s manufacturing operations west. He built temporary quarters in El Segundo near the southeast corner of Los Angeles Municipal Airport, more than a decade before it became Los Angeles International Airport. The company rented 20 acres there for $600 a month. A permanent factory was finished on the site and occupied in January 1936, with 250 employees.
The NA-16 trainer, the first U.S. military plane to have an official model number, which would evolve into the BT-9 and then the AT-6 Texan, became an important aircraft in the training of American and British pilots. The company focused on such smaller planes at first, choosing not to compete with larger operations which could produce bigger, multi-engine planes.
These trainers became essential with the outbreak of World War II and the resultant need to train thousands of men quickly to become pilots. By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, North American’s employment had risen to 23,000 people, and it was producing more than 300 aircraft per month." More here...
"James Howard “Dutch” Kindelberger, chief engineer of the DC-1 program at Douglas Aircraft, was named to head the new company (North American). He brought along two fellow Douglas designers, J.S. “Stan” Smithson and John Leland “Lee” Atwood, who 30 years later would succeed Kindelberger as leader of North American Aviation".
Aerojet / Rocketdyne
"Rocketdyne was an American rocket engine design and production company headquartered in Canoga Park, located in the western San Fernando Valley of suburban Los Angeles, in southern California.
The Rocketdyne Division was founded by North American Aviation (NAA) in 1955, and was later part of Rockwell International (1967-1996) and Boeing (1996-2005). In 2005, the Rocketdyne Division was sold to United Technologies Corporation, becoming Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne as part of Pratt & Whitney. In 2013, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne was sold to GenCorp, which merged it with Aerojet to form Aerojet Rocketdyne." Wikiprdia
"Autonetics originated in North American Aviation's Technical Research Laboratory, a small unit in the Los Angeles Division's engineering department in 1945. In 1946, the laboratory won an Army Air Force contract to develop a 175- to-500-mile-range glide missile. The work and the lab expanded, so that by June 1948, all of the Aerophysics Laboratory was consolidated at Downey, Calif. The evolution of the Navaho missile program then resulted in the establishment of Autonetics as a separate division of North American Aviation in 1955, first located in Anaheim, Calif.
Autonetics included the Navigation Systems division, designing and producing inertial and stellar-inertial navigation systems for ships, submarines, missiles, aircraft and space vehicles. Other products included alignment devices and attitude reference systems for missile launchers, artillery, orientation, land survey, aircraft and missile-range ships.
The Autonetics Data Systems division developed data-processing systems, general-purpose digital computers, ground support equipment, control systems and telemetry systems. The Electro Sensor Systems division built multi-function radar systems, armament control computers, data and information display systems for high performance aircraft, and sensor equipment.
Autonetics built a portable office computer and ranging radar for trainers and fighters and was responsible for the guidance and control system for the Boeing-built Minuteman missiles. The division ultimately produced the Monica family of microcomputers and the D37B Minuteman II computer, in which microminiaturization reduced weight by two-thirds.
Milestones also included the first airplane flight of an inertial autonavigator (XN-1) in 1950 and the first flight of an all-solid-state computer (for the Navaho guidance system) in 1955." More here...
The North American Way
"After the successful raid on Tokyo and other cities in Japan, Brig. Gen. Doolittle returned to the United States. On June 1, 1942, he visited the North American Aviation plant in Inglewood, California. This was the plant that had manufactured the aircraft that he and 79 other brave individuals flew during the raid. By now, most people were aware that 80 brave men flying 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers attacked various targets in Japan. Doolittle was seen as a hero, and this visit would be no different". Read more here...
Remembering a remarkable man- James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger
A most influential man with friends in high places...
North American Aviation Missile and Rocket Power Development
The North American X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. Wiki
"The North American X-15 rocket-powered research aircraft bridged the gap between manned flight within the atmosphere and manned flight beyond the atmosphere into space. After completing its initial test flights in 1959, the X-15 became the first winged aircraft to attain velocities of Mach 4, 5, and 6 (four, five, and six times the speed of sound). Because of its high-speed capability, the X-15 had to be designed to withstand aerodynamic temperatures on the order of 1,200 degrees F.; as a result, the aircraft was fabricated using a special high-strength nickel alloy named Inconel X. " Smithsonian Air & Space
"In 1946, North American began the development of a long-range supersonic surface-to-surface cruise missile. This development effort eventually led to the SM-64 Navaho (q.v. for further details) design, and included a test vehicle to verify the basic aerodynamic and systems design of the Navaho. The test vehicle was ordered as RTV-A-5 in 1950, but was re-designated as X-10 in 1951. The first flight of an X-10 occurred in October 1953. The X-10 was powered by two Westinghouse XJ40 (later J40) turbojet engines, and took off and landed on a conventional runway. Its all-moving canard and delta-wing configuration was that of the planned SM-64 Navaho cruise stage.
The X-10 was equipped with an autopilot for automatic stable flight, and controlled by a radio-command guidance system with an AN/ARW-56 on-board receiver and an AN/ARW-55 transmitter in the ground control station. An AN/APW-11 radar transponder was carried for tracking of the vehicle by the ground control radar. Later X-10 vehicles were also equipped with an N-6 inertial navigation system, which was planned for use by the forthcoming SM-64. The X-10 was a very high performance aircraft, and was for a short time actually the fastest turbojet-powered aircraft flown, reaching Mach 2.05". More here...
AGM-28A Hound Dog
"The Hound Dog [the Air Force lifted the name from the title of an Elvis Presley hit song ] was designed as a long range, stand-off air-to-ground strategic missile. It was carried in pairs beneath the wings of B-52 aircraft. The overall mission of the Hound Dog was to aid B-52s in successfully carrying out the strategic bombing offensive. This would be accomplished by providing a means of attacking and destroying heavily defended enemy targets without subjecting the B-52 fleet to unacceptable loss levels, and by assisting bombers in penetrating enemy targets by attacking and destroying segments of the enemy's air defense system.
The Hound Dog missile program began on 15 March 1956 when Headquarters Air Force issued a General Operations Requirement (GOR 148) for an air-to-surface missile to be carried on the B-52 strategic manned bomber. In August 1957, Secretary of the Air Force James H. Douglas telephoned J. H. Kindelberger of North American Aviation to tell him that his company had won the development contract. And on 16 October 1958, Headquarters USAF awarded a Hound Dog production contract to North American Aviation, Inc." More here...
Birth of the Hound Dog (Missile) By Ellis Katz PDF
"I joined the Missile Division of North American Aviation in Downey in May 1955 and was assigned to the Preliminary Design Section headed by Bill Parker. Reporting to Bill were Bob Wilson for Design and Bernie Chew for Operational Analysis. My background at the time was aerodynamics and missile design. I was identified as a Responsible Engineer under Gordon Olson and George Jeffs. As an RE, I was to lead teams on projects to which I was assigned. On July 13, 1957, the North American Navaho program was abruptly canceled. The cancellation was a result of the successes of the Atlas ballistic missile program. The Navaho, a 3,000-mile ramjet cruise missile, was deemed as not competitive for the prescribed mission. Ironically, much of the success of the Atlas could be directly traced to the technology developed for the Navaho. Only weeks after the cancellation, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force invited North American to come up with a design for a “lightweight air-to-surface missile”. It was to be carried by the B-52 bomber with a weight of not more than 12,500 lb fully fueled and armed. We were told it was a “hurry-up” project and that the concept had to be back in Washington within a week." More here from Ellis Katz - Birth of the Hound Dog
"To achieve Mach 3 performance, the B-70 was designed to "ride" its own shock wave, much as a surfer rides an ocean wave. The resulting shape used a delta wing on a slab-sided fuselage that contained the six jet engines that powered the aircraft. The outer wing panels were hinged. During take off, landing, and subsonic flight, they remained in the horizontal position. This feature increased the amount of lift produced, improving the lift-to-drag ratio. Once the aircraft was supersonic, the wing panels would be hinged downward. Changing the position of the wing panels reduced the drag caused by the wingtips interacted with the inlet shock wave. The repositioned wingtips also reduced the area behind the airplane's center of gravity, which reduced trim drag. The downturned outer panels also provided more vertical surface to improve directional stability at high Mach numbers. Attached to the delta was a long, thin forward fuselage. Behind the cockpit were two large canards, which acted as control surfaces." NASA. More here...
North American's XB-70 "The Great White Bird"
"The XB-70A number 1 (62-001) made its first flight from Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base, CA, on Sept. 21, 1964. Tests of the XB-70's airworthiness occurred throughout 1964 and 1965 by North American and Air Force test pilots. The Flight Research Center prepared its instrument package. Although intended to cruise at Mach 3, the first XB-70 was found to have poor directional stability above Mach 2.5, and only made a single flight above Mach 3. Despite the problems, the early flights provided data on a number of issues facing SST designers. These included aircraft noise, operational problems, control system design, comparison of wind tunnel predictions with actual flight data, and high-altitude, clear-air turbulence." NASA. More here...
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